My Journey through the Art and Science of Coaching

Well it's Module 1 Day 1 and my mind has already been blown... not sure where we can go from here with 15 days of intensive left but I am so ready for the ride. To catch you up, I'm in Vancouver for the month of the July to take Modules 1 to 4 of The Art and Science of Coaching from Erickson International. First impressions have been fabulous and so impressive. I know this is going to be a world class coaching education.. not to mention there are students from all around the world in my class - Sweden, Brazil, Greece, Germany, India - these people have traveled much further than I have to invest in this education.

And if it wasn't perfect enough already, the first and last weeks of the session are being instructed by the founder and creator of the program, Marilyn Atkinson. You can tell how much experience and wisdom she has by the way she presented herself in the room. She made everyone feel at ease and excited to be there - the room was beaming since the first introductions in the morning.

Personally, I'm so exhausted but also energized after today's session. It really confirmed some of my own theories and ideas around coaching and boosted my confidence to give some backing to many of techniques I've developed intuitively. Such as deep listening, establishing a "coach position", and helping clients paint a picture of their vision by asking the questions that will draw the next stroke. I could feel the doubts and insecurities I've had around becoming a coach and truly stepping into it just melt away. I cannot even begin to explain the high I felt after our first breakout sessions of 5 minute coaching questions as we walked around the room.

I was pretty much doing my happy dance all day.

I was planning to journal and blog about my experience anyways but I really enjoyed something Marilyn said. At the beginning of the day she said, "I invite you to keep a journal about this experience..." When you take notes those are just the facilitators words. When you journal, those are YOUR words and thoughts. I really love that idea. It is so true. I can't imagine where I'm going to be mentally by August 1st but I'm excited for the journey that will take me there. I'll be able to read it all later and see how I perceived it unfolding.

My key take-aways today were:

  • Coaching has nothing to do with you and your opinion - This one I knew already but it was a hard one for people to grasp. The desire to give advice is so strong at first - ESPECIALLY if it's a subject you know about or have experienced before.
  • Coaching stays in the positive - (at least in this course it does) - I had a bit of trouble here. When someone brings up a fear or a doubt, I'm used to digging into that to find out what is behind it so you can name it and determine how to move forward. Marilyn was very adamant that we ignore the fear and give more focus and exploration to the positive things. I suppose the theory is that whatever you give your attention to will grow, so instead of focusing/wallowing in fear, move past it completely by focusing on what actions you CAN take. I guess after enough positive steps towards your goal, that initial fear would be gone - though I can't help think it would be lurking somewhere waiting to take you down when you least suspect it. I have a feeling we'll tap into this one more in the coming days - a lot of people had questions in this area. I found it challenging to break my habits and stay forward thinking in our practice session.
  • Coaching with timed coaching contracts can work miracles - It's Parkinson's Law in action. Setting an outcome for your session can assure you get there. Asking "What would be the best result for you for our 10 minutes of coaching together?", and having the client set and define their outcome allows the brain to work it's magic and fill in the gaps. It worked amazingly well in our 5 minute practice sessions - even after the session the brain keeps working to fill in what you've asked of it.

We learned much more about building rapport, asking questions that will help clarify their vision, and defining a session contract - all good, useful, and brilliant stuff. I have a feeling I'll still be re-reading these textbooks years from now.

Anywho, time for bed. I need to give my brain a rest so it can remember all this great stuff I'm learning! That's a thing right? Students needing sleep.. But what if you are too excited and inspired and curious to sleep? Only time will tell...